A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Nathan Dewing, Agricultural Team Leader, Bradford County Conservation District
'Tis the Season for contemplation. Having just come through harvest and entering winter, the growing season pauses and cues us to do the same. The natural world silently screams for us to slow down. It is time to ask again the important questions like - who are we? and why are we? A good time for some solid business planning. Let's consider an often-overlooked opportunity you may way to bring into the picture - the one-tenth principle.
Central to our work at the conservation district is understanding how people and our natural environment thrive. It is the dynamic process we often talk about called Conservation Planning. If there are factors that can help you thrive, we want you to know about them. This is certainly one. The one-tenth principle is woven into many cultures and societies, but none more rigorously than the ancient Hebrew culture. We are first introduced to the idea in the ancient lineage of the Jewish people as history records that Abraham returned the first fruits of his labor, a tenth, to God. This was known as "tithe" which simply means "tenth".
Now, what about us? If we ever think about the one-tenth principle, our context may go no further than the idea of giving. But what if there's more? What if it is more like returning? Back in May, my neighbor gave me some cattle scales to use before our cows went to pasture. I remember that next morning, my timely return of the scales felt good. It never occurred to me to pat myself on the back for giving him a fine set of scale (that worked so good by the way), he might have had something to say about it. Well, returning them was a blessing, and we built something. We opened a door for possibilities.
I think this more accurately frames the one-tenth principle. I am familiar with the anxiety that comes with trying to hold onto every last thing I possess. I am learning amazing things in returning the first one-tenth of my increase, and I would sum them in one word - expansion. The most practical perhaps is the potential that is unlocked in the remaining 90%. I am reminded to trust God, who sees far more than I can. I have listened to many people tell of deciding to return the first tenth, even when it could never work in the budget, and their smiles are big. They discovered something significant.
Starting with a one tenth margin in all areas of my life and business opens the door for flourishing - for myself and others.
As you slow down this winter consider the one-tenth principle in your business plan, home budget or conservation plan. It will answer questions, dissolve obstacles, and open possibilities.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District